How to Balance a Relationship-Based Culture and Performance

Learn how relationships have evolved in the social selling era and how to change your sales strategy to keep up.

November 12, 2014


Selling has always been about relationships, but now that buyers are completing roughly two-thirds of the decision making process without help from sales reps, former staples such as cold calling and canned pitches are no longer effective sales tactics. Instead, warm introductions through mutual LinkedIn connections are much more effective for connecting with sales prospects. Research conducted by IDC has shown that:

  • 76.2% of buyers prefer working with vendors recommended by someone they know
  • 73% prefer working with sales professionals recommended by someone they know
  • 65.1% say their social network is critical for reference checking
  • The number of B2B buyers who connected directly with potential solutions providers via social networking channels increased 57% from 2012 to 2013.

Along with increased use of social media in sales has come a rise in team selling, where instead of sales reps having own personal set of contacts, each rep’s contacts are shared throughout the sales team. Instead of assigning leads based on geographic proximity, managers are taking “social proximity” into account, and are assigning leads and accounts based on existing relationships.

In our new eBook, How to Move Your Team to Social Selling, we provide an in-depth guide to making the change from the old sales methods that are no longer effective to using social selling to keep your sales pipeline flowing. Here’s an overview of the chapter that covers balancing a relationship-based culture and performance. If you’d like, you can also skip directly to the SlideShare presentation below.

How to adopt a social selling strategy in a relationship-based culture

To encourage the adoption of social selling, companies will need to adjust their performance metrics to reward participation in social selling, particularly team selling, instead of just focusing on each individual’s performance. Social selling expert Jill Rowley emphasizes that “if we are going to get sales people to behave differently, we have to measure and reward them differently.” Instead of using performance metrics based on their number of phone calls and demos, Rowley recommends using size of network, quality of connections, number of followers, and internal collaboration. If “social selling is a team sport,” the performance metrics need to reflect this.

Use SSI as a benchmark

LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how active reps are in using social selling. A higher SSI directly correlates with higher sales numbers, so this is definitely something to take into account and promote when adopting social selling.

Focus on long-term benefits

It’s essential when adopting a social selling strategy to emphasize the effect it will have on reps’ individual sales numbers. Social selling may seem like a lot of work, but in comparison to the 3% success rate of cold-calling, it’s a much more effective use of time. For example, 78% of sales reps who engage in social selling outsell their peers.

Educate reps on providing helpful content

Buyers today are looking for sales reps to take on more of a consulting role instead of a traditional sales role. Providing relevant and insightful content through social media can help establish sellers as experts in their field.

Lead by example

When adopting any new business practice, it’s crucial for those at the top to lead the way. Sales managers need to be the first to share their contacts and begin collaborating with the sales team for any meaningful change to take place.

For more information on how to balance relationship-based culture and performance, check out the Slideshare below.

The ability to adapt to the changing times is essential in any business. Make the process of adaptation easier by downloading our eBook, 'How to Move Your Team to Social Selling,' for our comprehensive guide on making the leap to a more effective sales strategy.